The Three Most Important Documents Needed for the Transfer of Real Property

If you live in Florida and are planning to enter into a real estate transaction, the law requires you to do several things before you can close your deal. These requirements include providing certain documents at or before closing. Although there are not a lot of them, each one can be more complicated than you think. For this reason, it is a good idea to make sure you consult with an experienced Florida real estate attorney to make sure you don’t leave anything out. Under Florida law, transfers of property require the following documents:

The Deed

A deed is a document that memorializes the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer. It is recorded in the county’s public records to legally show that the property/title has been transferred. In order to finalize a closing, the seller must sign the deed and record it with the county clerk’s office. The main types of deeds are:

  • General warranty deed – This is the most common way to transfer ownership of real estate to a buyer. It guarantees that the seller has clear title, meaning they own it outright, they have the right to sell the property, and that there are no liabilities on the property.
  • Special warranty deed – This is an exception to the general warranty deed, meaning it is used by the seller to promise only that the title is clear against defects that may have emerged during the time that the seller actually owned the piece of property.
  • Quit claim deed – These are used to quickly transfer ownership of property. Unlike general or special warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds do not make any promises to the buyer in regards to the title. 

The Bill of Sale

If the property you are selling is being sold with personal property, such as air conditioners, appliances, or light fixtures, you will also need to use a Bill of Sale. The purpose of this document is to list out which property is included in the transaction outside of the real estate itself.

The Seller’s Affidavit or Certificate of Title

In order to complete a sale in Florida, the seller is required to provide an affidavit (a verified statement) at closing in which they attest to several things. Such promises include:

  • there are no outstanding contracts for the sale of the property,
  • there are no liabilities against the property like a lien, mortgage, or boundary line dispute,
  • there have been no improvements made within the past 90 that still have any unpaid bills associated with them,
  • there are no matters (e.g. judgments or claims) pending against seller which could give rise to a lien that would attach to the property, and
  • there are no violations of any laws, regulations, or ordinances involving the use of the property.

Importantly, if the seller knowingly lies about any of these things, then the buyer can seek damages.

Consult an Experienced Florida Real Estate Lawyer

Having a real estate lawyer represent the seller at the closing table can be just as important as having legal representation when you are buying Florida residential real estate. Although the process may seem straightforward, there are many things that can crop up to complicate the transaction. For example, if a buyer takes out a mortgage loan when purchasing property, then there will be a lot more paperwork involved than if they were to pay cash. Banks and other lenders also require a lot of disclosures to be made to and by the buyer in a Florida real estate transaction.

For these reasons, and in general to make sure everything is properly done and that you are acquiring clear title or, as Seller, you are properly closing the transaction, it is a very good idea to consult with an experienced real estate attorney who will guide you through the process and ensure a proper closing.

At Ser & Associates, we work closely with our clients to make sure that everything runs smoothly, title is clear, all required documents are completed and recorded and close the transaction as quickly as possible.  If you are looking to buy or sell property, please contact us today at 305-222-7282 to get started.